Chief Minister final arbiter: Farooq
‘Geelani Will Die As Indian’
New Delhi, Nov 17: Raising the pitch for removal of AFSPA from select areas of J&K, National Conference president and Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah Thursday said the Chief Minister, being the head of the Unified Command in the state, should be the final arbiter on the issue.
Speaking on the sidelines of a function to release a book titled “The Caliphate’s Soldiers: The Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s Long War” written by veteran journalist and senior fellow Observer Research Foundation, Wilson John, Farooq said Omar’s assessment and views should be considered seriously. “Today when CM feels that the conditions are better and Indo-Pak relations are improving, there is need to review AFSPA” he observed.
Farooq said he was the person who invoked AFSPA when Kashmir was in the grip of “Pakistan-backed insurgency” in 1990. "But that was then. When I recently went to Kashmir, the flight to Srinagar was full of visitors. The situation in the region is much better," he said.
Dr Abdullah harped on the theme of elected Chief Minister’s supremacy and drew parallels with the creation of a Unified Command when he was heading the state government. “It was I who had created the Unified Command despite opposition from a section of the armed forces for better coordination among various wings of security and intelligence agencies. I did not do it either for my safety or protect my chair. The only purpose was to protect the country’s interests,” he added.
Hoping that the Centre will see reason in his son Omar’s arguments for removal of AFSPA, Farooq said his decision on removal of 40 bunkers in the Srinagar city had also met with stiff resistance. “But nothing adverse has happened ever-since the decision was implemented,” he said.
Farooq didn't name the Army which vehemently opposes the idea of revoking the act that gives sweeping powers to armed forces in fighting militants. He said opposition to the proposal would always be there.
Despite opposition, he said, "the AFSPA will gradually have to go".
Farooq also took on the political parties raising the bogey that tampering with AFSPA at this stage was against the national interest and would adversely impact the army. Referring to senior BJP leader L K Advani’s warning to launch an agitation if AFSPA was touched, he reminded the veteran politicians as to how dreaded terrorists were released by the NDA Government, when he was the Home Minister, while he had maintained a studied silence. “I want to ask Advaniji where was he at that time,” he observed.
Farooq thundered that neither he nor his son would do anything which jeopardized the security and integrity of India. “If reasons forwarded by the CM are better then action should be taken to remove AFSPA,” he said.
‘GEELANI WILL DIE AS INDIAN’
Farooq said Kashmir will never secede from India and those who dream of a merger with Pakistan, “including Syed Ali Geelani, will die as Indians.”
"Kashmir will remain a part of India. Geelani will die as an Indian. And so will others who dream of merging with Pakistan," he said.
Farooq was asked if he was responsible for pushing the Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun following alleged mass rigging in the 1987 assembly elections, won by National Conference headed by him.
The former chief minister denied that the polls were manipulated in favor of NC.
"It is not so. Some of my ministers lost the election. Don't blame me for sending the boys across for armed training," he said.
He said Sallahuddin, the top Kashmiri militant commander now based in Pakistan, indeed lost the election but "Farooq Abdullah is not responsible for the Kashmir trouble".
"It is because Pakistan wants to have Kashmir and they think it is in their pocket. Their interest in Kashmir is three rivers - Chenab, Jhelum and Indus."
He said a democratic Pakistan, free from the army rule and the ISI, was in the interest of India. "Pakistan must survive. It is essential."
Dealing with the contents of the book, Farooq said; “Some of the Muslim bigots still have a vision of Khilafat. I feel terribly sad as Muslim to see what we have done to Islam,” he said.
He described the book’s contents as revealing and hair-raising.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 17 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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